Friday, September 23, 2016

XYZ

I would love to blog more about my life in a commune, but I feel there is nothing interesting to tell. To me living in a commune is just living. The longer I live with the people I share the apartment with, the more ordinary and easy it becomes. It's like working with a team of people. You never take a moment at work to wonder how you ever end up working with those people, and especially you don't wonder why they work in the same place in the first place. Our living arrangement is the same to me. I no longer stop to think about these things as they have become so normal and ordinary to me. I never look at my roommates and wonder what they are doing in the same apartment with me. My boyfriend and my roommates feel more like an odd family, like people I expect to live with me. It's strange and completely normal at the same time.

Also, the longer I live with my boyfriend and my roommates the more I wonder why they are so many people who choose to live alone. In a way it makes sense to me, but most of the time it doesn't. I get the idea of freedom, the idea of doing whatever you want whenever you want. But more than freedom I enjoy the life around me, the living breathing human beings and the little noises and the little signs of things happening. Our apartment feels eery when I am home alone. It feels wrong, like its soul is missing and I can't get a rest. I'm not sure I could ever choose solitude. I like the feeling of not being alone. It gives me joy and comfort. I don't even need to see my roommates or my boyfriend, nor hear them, I just need to know they exist and it makes me happy.

I know I am strange girl and feeling strange things and living a strange life. But it suits me. It suits me just fine. And I feel that these are the best things that have ever happened to me. Life is full of surprises and I have come to realize that there are always more surprises around the corner, waiting for me. I can't really foretell where I end up. I just need to live it to see it.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

I am now the kind of girl who runs half marathons

I ran a half marathon yesterday. I felt that maybe I should blog something about it, since most people consider it a quite big deal. I, on the other hand, have really mixed feelings now when I have actually finished it. It was just so much easier than I expected. I expected it to be kind of a struggle but in the reality it was just a really long run. I wasn't considerably different than my regular 10km runs.

I signed up in February. I wanted to sign up as early as possible so I wouldn't chicken out, plus it was cheaper the earlier you signed up. It took me a long time before I even started my running season this year. I am not a winter runner. I needed to wait until the ice and snow are all gone. And then I stopped running. Until I started running again. Seriously, this has been the worst running season in my life. And by life I mean these past years I have been actually running and not just imagining it in my little head.

But on the other hand this has been the best running season in my life. I finally got a running partner who is not far better than me. Just a little better. Good enough to get me out and running, to get me motivated, to make me work just a little bit harder. It also feels good to share the love of running with another thing you love.

I had hesitated. I had not been running as much as I should have. I had not really trained at all. My runs have been sloppy and all over the place. But the runs that I had, the good runs, they were really good. I got the flow, the feeling that I could go on forever. Other days I felt so good about going and doing the half marathon, other days I felt that it could never happen. I felt both of these outcomes were exactly as likely to happen.

But eventually my boyfriend managed to push me on the more positive side. Sometimes he seemed to be even more into the idea of me running the half marathon than I was. I wanted to do it for him too. So all his support wouldn't go waste. If I had put one of those "I am doing this for" signs on my back, my sign would have had his name on it.

So I ran a half marathon. That's 21.1 kilometers.  The first 10 kilometers were quite easy. I've ran 10 kilometers more times than I can remember. The next five kilometers weren't exactly bad either. I was mostly running on my own, no other runners nearby. I couldn't tell how many runners were running behind me or in front of me. I only saw a couple other runners in my second 10 kilometer lap. It was quite easy to achieve some kind of a flow when you just ran and followed a single chalk line on the ground. I didn't need to think about anything. I mostly admired the landscape. The sky was a really nice when the sun started to set. The sea was fabulous too. It was a really nice route to run and since it was new to me, I didn't exactly get bored either.

The first time I experienced something I could call as a minor struggle was in the 17th kilometer. My feet didn't hurt. I still felt pretty good considering that I had already run 17 kilometers. I was just somehow getting bored of the motion, bored of running. But the urge to do anything besides running wasn't really strong enough to stop me from running. I just thought to myself "When was the last time I couldn't run four kilometers?". Never, that is the answer. I can always run four kilometers. So I ran the final four kilometers, all the way to the finish line.

And the view from the finish line was beautiful. I just sat there, on a little piece of grass, eating a banana - even though I don't like bananas - and thinking to myself that I had just finished a half marathon. That was the only time I wished there was someone with me. I enjoyed running solo because I was able to run my own comfortable pace at all time... but while I was sitting there I wished there was someone sitting there and sharing the feeling with me. The trembling sore legs, the slowly steadying breath, being so sweaty you don't even know where to start, the everything. But at least I was able to share the moment with the beautiful landscape, while hearing the list of names of the people who finished after me.


It was easy. And then again not. Mostly easy, but there were moments. I wanted it to be a struggle so it would feel like a real accomplishment. I don't know what to make of it. I don't know how to be proud of something that felt so easy to do. I feel like I should be proud of myself but I just can't. I just did something I was very able to do and achieved it with almost no effort at all. I didn't train, I barely even ran. I didn't have any special diet, any special plan. I guess I should have had a goal or something. To make it a struggle. To make it something impossible to reach. Maybe next year. Maybe next year I try to run every kilometer one minute faster. That way I should be able to drop 21 minutes from my time. That's a struggle.

Either way. No matter how I feel about it. I am now an official half marathoner. I got a little medal to show for, though it doesn't say anything on it. Just the name of the race. Nobody knows whether I participated in the 5 kilometer walk or the half marathon. At least my race bib shows the real distance.


Now I have another race coming up; my third Midnight Run Helsinki. My boyfriend is participating too, I just signed him up yesterday. It's kinda weird to think about sometimes. That I am the kind of person who signs up and participates in races. Who knew? After all I was the girl who used to hate all sports. So I guess in that sense the half marathon was quite an achievement. I was definitely not born to run. I've had to learn how to be a runner, how to run, and how to keep running. That is still the real struggle. How to keep running despite of everything.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Vad i helvete?!

Be careful what you wish for, they say. Be careful. I remember this one blog post I wrote back in 2008, in which I semi-seriously pondered whether I should study Swedish, the other official language of Finland. I can't remember why I got the idea and why I thought it was a good idea, but I remember discarding that idea pretty much as quickly as I got it. I guess I assumed it would be too much work, to be too laborious.

But little did I know... that in 2015 I would actually pretty much fall in love with the Swedish language. Fall. In. Love. I am 100% serious. I fell in love with the language I used to hate for years. And it happened by an accident, because of a stupid joke that wasn't even funny in the first place. It's amazing how little things can change the way you view things.

It started with Duolingo.com, the language learning website. I had heard so much about it that I eventually just wanted to give it a try. I wanted to see what it was all about and whether it worked or not. I made an account and suddenly I was faced with a tough decision; what language should I try?And in case you don't know already, there is a surprisingly wide selection of languages to choose from! Hastily I decided to make a fun decision, something to entertain me at work. So I chose the language everybody hates, that I hated; Swedish.

I am highly motivated by magical invisible internet points. I love getting experience points and level-ups, they do wonders to me. So once I started "playing", I wanted to advance up in the skill tree, get more level-ups, get more experience points. I was hooked. And suddenly I forgot that Swedish was supposed to be oh-so-dreadful and oh-so-boring. That I was supposed to dislike it, even hate it. The more experience points I got, the more I was sucked in. Swedish started to make sense, kinda started to sound beautiful. It had it own flow, I liked it. I started to appreciate it. I relearned grammar and widened my vocabulary.

So yeah. I'd say Duolingo works. At least for re-learning languages.

It took me a little over month to finish the Swedish skill tree. I worked hard, one could say I was even a bit too addicted to Duolingo. But it was all for good! It wasn't just a stupid mobile game to waste some time on. I was actually, very seriously, learning something. And I wanted to keep learning even after I finished the skill tree. I started to read books in Swedish and ultimately I made a decision to read nothing but Swedish books this year.

Det handlar ocksÄ om mig

My progress with books is quite slow, but it is definitely still progress. I try my best to learn Swedish from other sources too. It's easy here in Finland, there is Swedish practically everywhere when you really start to look for it. I've learn countless new words for example from ads, street signs and instructions. Sometimes I feel impatient, like I should be working harder or learning faster, but then again I understand that it takes time and practice to become fluent, it doesn't happen overnight and it doesn't happen easily. After all it has taken me a decade to become fluent in English and I've only studied Swedish actively for a year. Couple new words every week is more than enough. I'll get there, eventually.

Besides, I am also in level 14 in Dutch.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Papu update

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I only have one dog now, Papu. The current trend with dogs and divorces seems to be a joint custody, but I never wanted that and nether did J.R. Papu has always been more like my dog and Niila has always been more his dog. It was the most obvious choice for us to divide the dogs.

Some people were surprised that we decided to divide the dogs though. Apparently it's considered to be cruel to divide dogs who have grown up and lived together. I believe it depends on the dogs. I lived together for three months with my friend after J.R. and I broke up and Papu was the only dog in the household and she seemed to enjoy it tremendously. She was happier than ever before, much calmer and she seemed to enjoy human company more than usually too. I feel that I built a better relationship with Papu too when I was able to really concentrate on her. I even managed to teach her a new trick. I could not see any sign of suffering in Papu, she was just fine. Like Niila never existed in the first place. In a way it's a sad thought, that Papu is able to forget Niila just like that, in a blink of an eye, not being sad for even a day, but on the other hand Papu is a dog and who knows if dogs are really even able to miss something or remember anything. The only thing that matters to me is that she is happy.

My boyfriend also has a dog so now when we live together we have this blended family going on. Papu's new baby brother is called Tomu. I was a bit worried how it would turn out since Papu is pretty bad ass (as miniature pinschers often are) and Tomu is definitely on the softer side of the spectrum. But so far everything has been just great. I think Papu enjoys Tomu's company much more than she ever enjoyed Niila's. Niila was more like a constant nuisance but Tomu understands to keep his distance and have some respect towards Papu too.

Tomu looks mostly like a furry sofa-pillow or something. I can never remember his breed. I just tell people that he has a lot of hair and that he is small. I think I am a bad step-mama for not remembering, but I simply can't remember everything. I can't even remember Papu's birthday (more bad mama points)!

Tomu
Tomu looks quite smart in the picture and almost majestic, and like something that could actually survive alone in the nature. But it's all false. Tomu is most of the time the most retarded dog I know. Just retarded. But not in a bad way though, retarded like in a silly way. And he would definitely not survive in the nature alone. At least that is what I think. Anyway. I think our blended family is doing good. I try to be a good step-mama and Papu enjoys all the attention she gets from the new housemates. I think this has been the best possible outcome of the situation. There could have been problems, like lots of them, but we got lucky. Papu and Tomu get along and Papu accepts all the new housemates as her loyal servants and worshipers.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Importance of Imperial Units

"Be careful what you wish for", they said. But I wasn't careful so I actually got what I wished for: measuring cups with imperial units. One who does not bake so often probably can't understand why it is so unbelievably handy to have the correct measuring cups. There is Google, indeed, and it's really easy to convert units to other units. Cups to deciliters, no problem, just google it. But it's just pain in the ass really, there are usually several measurements to convert and you have to round them down or up in a weird way. It takes time and the actual baking is annoying because you have to stare at your one deciliter measuring cup and wonder how on earth do you measure 0,36588 deciliters with it. Have you ever tried it? You just can't do it very accurately. And did I already say that it is annoying. It makes you wonder why you chose such a recipe and what is wrong with Americans in the first place.

I assume that my boyfriend chose the measuring cup set based on the functionality (it's not exactly easy to find measuring cups with imperial units here in Finland as they are not the official units here) but they are actually really pretty and please my aesthetics. Somehow I wish all my measuring cups and bowls and other baking equipment were as pretty. I enjoy pretty things in the kitchen too and I am quite of a snob sometimes. Not snob enough to use my ugly old plastic bowls though but still snob enough to wish they were prettier.



Having these measuring cups as actual physical objects also helps me to understand their size better and how they relate to each other. It's easy for me to imagine how much is one or two deciliters since I'm very used to the size of their measuring cups. It's like knowing the size of a regular mug or a glass. You just know how big they generally are. But trying to imagine the exact size of 2,36588 mugs or glasses: considerably harder. So it is difficult for me to imagine the size of the dough when reading through a new recipe. I know how much one cup is in deciliters but multiplying that with one or two or three... I just get lost. Three cups doesn't sound much but it is actually quite a lot of flour, enough to bake one bread! I believe that being able to actually hold the measuring cups, being able to feel their size and to see their size, will definitely help me with this, especially when I get more and more used to them. I expect that eventually one cup becomes one cup for me, and not 2,36588 deciliters. It's a nice thing to think about.